Thursday, 21 January 2016

Scopes and sun cream: six months with the DBBP team

What’s involved in working with BirdWatch Ireland on the Dublin Bay Birds Project? I reflect on my six months as an intern, which gave me a taste of what it’s like to work in conservation; a dynamic area where fieldwork, office work and public engagement are all key parts of the job.

Ringing Arctic Tern chicks in Dublin Port Ricky Whelan

In June 2015 I joined the BirdWatch Ireland team as an intern, working primarily with the Dublin Bay Birds Project team. With the breeding season in full swing, it was a running start, and over the first few months Common and Arctic Terns were in focus. Fieldwork involved visiting the breeding colonies in Dublin Port, to conduct nest and egg counts and ring the chicks. It was a fantastic experience to visit the breeding colonies and to be involved in this important research, although some of my clothes will never be the same again!

Carrying out nest surveys on the new tern raft at the
Great South Wall, Dubin Port 
Ricky Whelan

After the breeding season, the focus of our field work changed, along with the temperatures. The sun cream was swapped for a flask of tea and a scope, and we began counts of wintering waterbirds in Dublin Bay. Bull Island became my training ground, and with a lot of help from the team, my identification, counting and ring-reading skills greatly improved. Visiting various locations around Dublin Bay gave me a whole new perspective on the city, and the important role it plays for so many species during the winter months.

Searching for colour-ringed Oystercatchers on 
Sandymount Strand, Dublin Jen Lynch
Overall being part of the Dublin Bay Birds team has been extremely rewarding and enjoyable. I got the opportunity to be involved in many different aspects of conservation work and learned a huge amount in this short period. Working alongside people who are willing to share their experiences and knowledge (especially Niall Tierney, Ricky Whelan and Steve Newton) was an essential part of this, and I would recommend this position, or similar ones, to anyone hoping to pursue a career in conservation.